Journal of Information Technology

, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 434–449 | Cite as

Embodiment and presence in virtual worlds: a review

  • Ulrike Schultze
Research Article


The multimodal, 3D-graphical communication platforms known as virtual worlds have their historical roots in multi-user domains/dungeons (MUDs) and virtual reality (VR). Given the extensive research on these technologies and the novelty of virtual worlds as a topic of study in information systems (IS), it behooves us to learn from the concepts, theories and insights generated primarily by other disciplines that have focused on these technologies. Because neither MUDs nor VR have significant organizational application, thus locating them outside of the IS discipline’s purview, very little of this literature has found its way into IS research thus far. This article reviews the extant literature on virtual environments and seeks to make its insights accessible to IS research on virtual worlds. In particular, this will focus on concepts, theories and insights regarding embodiment and presence, which are afforded by the avatar, a distinguishing technological artifact of virtual worlds.


avatar virtual reality telepresence social presence co-presence self presence 



Funding from the National Science Foundation, Grant IIS-0848692, made this research possible. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. I would also like to thank Shauna Bowers, Chris Sauer and three anonymous reviewers for their comments on an earlier version of this paper.


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© Association for Information Technology Trust 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ulrike Schultze
    • 1
  1. 1.Southern Methodist UniversityDallasUSA

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